12 Amazing Things to Do in Antalya, Turkey: Top Attractions to Visit

by Reyna
The best things to do in Antalya, Turkey
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When I first set foot in Antalya, I had a simple plan: soak up the sun, enjoy the beaches, and maybe explore a bit of the Old Town. But as I delved deeper into this coastal city, I realized that Antalya had so much more to offer than just its pristine shores.

The city is a beautiful blend of the old and the new. On one hand, you have the ancient ruins, like those in Perge, that transport you back in time, making you feel like you’re walking alongside the Romans. On the other, you have modern cafes and vibrant bazaars that pulse with energy, offering a taste of contemporary Turkish culture.

And let’s talk about the food. From mouth-watering kebabs to the freshest seafood, every meal in Antalya was a culinary adventure. I still dream about the flavors and aromas that filled the local eateries.

But what truly sets Antalya apart is its spirit. The warmth of its people, the rich tapestry of its history, and the sheer diversity of experiences it offers. Through this guide, I aim to share the lesser-known gems and anecdotes from my time in this Turkish wonderland. So, are you ready to uncover the real Antalya? To help you make the most out of your next trip, here are my top 12 things to see and do in Antalya, Turkey.

Amazing things to do in Antalya right now

Best Places to Visit in Antalya

Ready to jump into all the coolest things to do in Antalya? As noted above, there’s something for everyone at this vibrant vacation spot in Turkey. So keep reading to discover all these unique Antalya places to visit.

Are you looking to explore ancient ruins and historical sites, enjoy the vibrant nightlife and shop in bustling markets? Or would you prefer to indulge in water sports, relax on beautiful beaches, and savor delicious Turkish cuisine? Whatever you’re planning, these must-sees in Antalya can accommodate your needs. Here’s all the best attractions in Antalya that you should know about.

1. Kaleiçi (Old Town)

One of the best things to do in Antalya is to explore Kaleiçi, the city’s historic heart. This area is a maze of narrow streets, lined with restored Ottoman-era houses. As you wander through, you’ll come across ancient Roman walls, historic mosques, and charming boutiques. It’s a place where history meets the present.

Hadrian’s Gate, a triumphal arch built in the name of the Roman emperor Hadrian, is a must-visit. Nearby, the Hıdırlık Tower offers panoramic views of the city and the sea. For those interested in history, the Antalya Museum in the vicinity showcases artifacts from the region’s rich past.

But Kaleiçi isn’t all about history. The area is also home to vibrant cafes, bars, and restaurants. Whether you’re looking to try traditional Turkish dishes or sip on local wines, there’s something for every palate. And as the sun sets, the streets come alive with music and laughter, making it a perfect spot to experience Antalya’s nightlife.

In short, a visit to Kaleiçi offers a mix of cultural, historical, and modern experiences, making it a top recommendation for anyone visiting Antalya.

Antalya's old town is filled with stunning architecture including unique stone buildings
Antalya’s old town is filled with stunning architecture including unique stone buildings

2. Düden Waterfalls

When you think of Antalya, cascading waterfalls might not be the first thing that comes to mind. But trust me, the Düden Waterfalls are a sight you don’t want to miss. Located just a short drive from the city center, these waterfalls offer a refreshing escape from the hustle and bustle.

There are two main sections to the Düden Waterfalls: the Upper Düden and the Lower Düden. The Upper Düden is surrounded by a lush park, making it a great spot for picnics and relaxation. You can walk behind the waterfall, feeling the mist on your face, and marvel at the natural beauty.

The Lower Düden, on the other hand, is where the river meets the Mediterranean Sea. The sight of water plunging straight into the ocean from a height of 40 meters is truly spectacular. There’s also a viewing platform here, offering unobstructed views of the falls and the coastline.

For those looking to learn more, boat tours are available that take you close to the base of the Lower Düden. It’s a unique way to experience one of Antalya’s natural wonders. So, if you’re in the city, make sure to add Düden Waterfalls to your itinerary.

Düden Waterfalls is a pristine oasis that is a relaxing haven for travelers
Düden Waterfalls is a pristine oasis that is a relaxing haven for travelers

3. Perge Ancient City

If diving deep into history is your thing, then visiting the Perge Ancient City should be on your list of the coolest things to do in Antalya. Located just outside the city, Perge offers a glimpse into the region’s Roman and Hellenistic past.

Founded around 1,000 BC, Perge was once a bustling city, and today, its ruins stand as a testament to its former glory. As you walk through the site, you’ll encounter impressive structures. These include the Roman Gate, the Agora, and the well-preserved stadium. The stadium once seated over 12,000 spectators.

One of the highlights here is the colonnaded main street, flanked by water channels. It’s easy to imagine ancient residents going about their daily lives, shopping in the agora or attending events in the theater. The Nymphaeum, a monumental fountain dedicated to the nymphs, is another must-see, with its intricate carvings and statues.

While it’s possible to explore Perge on your own, it’s beneficial to have some guidance. Joining a guided tour can offer valuable insights into the history and significance of the ruins. With its rich history and impressive archaeological sites, Perge is a destination that history enthusiasts and casual visitors alike will appreciate.

For those who enjoy Roman history, few spots compare to the beauty of Perge Ancient City
For those who enjoy Roman history, few spots compare to the beauty of Perge Ancient City

4. Konyaaltı Beach

For those who believe that no trip is complete without a day at the beach, Konyaaltı Beach is the place to be in Antalya. Stretching over 7 kilometers along the city’s western coast, this beach is a favorite among both locals and tourists. And it’s easy to see why.

The pebbly shores of Konyaaltı are perfect for laying out and soaking up the Mediterranean sun. The backdrop of the Taurus Mountains provides a stunning contrast to the azure waters, making it a picturesque spot for relaxation. But if lounging isn’t your style, there’s plenty to keep you active. The calm waters are ideal for swimming, and there are numerous water sports activities available, from jet skiing to parasailing.

Along the beachfront, you’ll find a promenade lined with cafes, restaurants, and shops. It’s the perfect place to grab a bite, sip on a refreshing drink, or simply people-watch. As the day winds down, the beach becomes a popular spot. People gather to catch the sunset, with the sky painting a myriad of colors over the sea.

In a city filled with historical sites and natural wonders, Konyaaltı Beach stands out as a reminder of Antalya’s coastal charm. It’s a must-visit for anyone looking to experience the city’s laid-back beach vibe.

Konyaaltı Beach is breathtaking at sunset as the sun glows on its crystal clear waters
Konyaaltı Beach is breathtaking at sunset as the sun glows on its crystal clear waters

5. Aspendos Theatre

If there’s one thing that showcases the grandeur of Roman architecture in Antalya, it’s the Aspendos Theatre. Located about 45 minutes from the city center, this ancient theater is one of the best-preserved examples of Roman theater architecture in the world.

Built in the 2nd century AD by the Roman architect Zenon, the theater could accommodate around 20,000 spectators. Its design is a marvel, with impeccable acoustics that allow even whispers from the stage to be heard at the very top. Walking through its arched entrances and sitting on the stone steps, you can almost hear the echoes of ancient performances. You can also feel the excitement of the crowd from times gone by.

Among the unique things to do in Antalya, attending a performance at Aspendos should be high on your list. Today, the theater still hosts events, especially during the Aspendos International Opera and Ballet Festival. Imagine watching a classical performance in a venue that’s been hosting shows for nearly two millennia!

Nearby, the ruins of the ancient city of Aspendos await exploration, with remnants of basilicas, aqueducts, and a nymphaeum. But the theater remains the star attraction, a testament to the architectural prowess of the Romans and the rich history of the region.

Aspendos Theatre is a spectacular historic marvel for visitors of Antalya
Aspendos Theatre is a spectacular historic marvel for visitors of Antalya

6. Hadrian’s Gate

Right in the heart of modern Antalya stands a majestic relic from the Roman era: Hadrian’s Gate. Constructed in the 2nd century AD, this triumphal arch was built to honor the visit of the Roman Emperor Hadrian. It stands as a striking reminder of the city’s ancient roots.

The gate consists of three arched entrances, each adorned with intricate carvings and decorations. As you pass through, take a moment to admire the detailed craftsmanship on the coffered ceilings, showcasing floral and geometric designs. Flanked by two imposing towers, one from the Roman period and the other from the Seljuk era, the gate serves as a bridge between two significant epochs in Antalya’s history.

Walking through Hadrian’s Gate, you’re literally stepping on the same stones that countless others, including Emperor Hadrian himself, did centuries ago. It’s a tangible connection to the past, right in the midst of the city’s bustling present.

Surrounding the gate, modern Antalya sprawls with its vibrant markets, cafes, and shops. But this ancient entrance remains a focal point, drawing visitors and locals alike. For history enthusiasts, a visit to Hadrian’s Gate is enlightening. Casual travelers will also find it a unique blend of the ancient and the contemporary, making Antalya a must-see spot.

Hadrian's Gate's arched entrances are one of the most picturesque spots in Antalya
Hadrian’s Gate’s arched entrances are one of the most picturesque spots in Antalya

7. Olympos & Çıralı

Tucked away on the Mediterranean coast, the towns of Olympos and Çıralı offer a blend of natural beauty and ancient history that’s hard to match. These neighboring towns, though close in proximity, each have their distinct vibe and charm.

Olympos is renowned for its ancient ruins, nestled amidst a dense forest. As you explore, you’ll come across remnants of temples, streets, and bathhouses. These all bear witness to the city’s Lycian and Roman past. The ruins are intertwined with nature, making it feel like you’re discovering a lost city in the jungle.

Çıralı, on the other hand, is all about its stunning beach. Stretching over 3 kilometers, it’s a haven for those looking to relax by the sea. But there’s a twist: at night, the nearby Yanartaş (Burning Stones) emit natural flames due to underground gas vents. It’s said to be the inspiration behind the myth of the Chimera, a fire-breathing monster.

For travelers seeking a mix of adventure and relaxation, Olympos and Çıralı are perfect. Whether you’re hiking through ancient ruins, lounging on the beach, or watching the eternal flames of Yanartaş, these towns offer a slice of Antalya that’s both off the beaten path and rich in experiences.

Olympos' dense forests are filled with verdant greenery and unique flora and fauna
Olympos’ dense forests are filled with verdant greenery and unique flora and fauna

8. Antalya Aquarium

When you’re looking to take a break from the historical sites and beaches, the Antalya Aquarium offers a refreshing change of pace. Ranked among the largest aquarium complexes globally, this attraction is right in the heart of the city. It offers a deep dive (pun intended) into the underwater world.

The main tank, filled with thousands of species of marine life, is a spectacle in itself. From colorful corals to majestic sharks, the diversity on display is astounding. The 131-meter long tunnel, one of the longest in the world, allows visitors to walk right under the sea, surrounded by a myriad of marine creatures.

But the Antalya Aquarium isn’t just about fish. The ‘Snow World’ section, complete with real snow and an ice bar, offers a chilly escape from Antalya’s warm climate. And for those seeking a bit of adrenaline, the ‘Fear Trophy’ showcases some of the world’s most venomous species.

When considering Antalya things to do, the aquarium stands out as a family-friendly attraction that appeals to both kids and adults. It’s an educational journey, a visual treat, and an adventure rolled into one. Whether you’re a marine life enthusiast or just looking for a unique experience, the Antalya Aquarium is a must-visit.

Antalya Aquarium features thousands of beautiful, unique species of marine life
Antalya Aquarium features thousands of beautiful, unique species of marine life

9. Koprulu Canyon National Park

For those with a penchant for the great outdoors, Koprulu Canyon National Park is a standout among Antalya things to do. Located about 90 kilometers northeast of Antalya, this national park is a haven for nature enthusiasts and adrenaline junkies alike.

Spanning over 35,000 hectares, the park is home to the stunning Koprulu Canyon, carved by the Kopru River over millennia. The canyon’s sheer rock walls rise dramatically on either side of the river, creating a breathtaking natural landscape that’s perfect for photography.

But it’s not just the views that draw visitors. The park is a hotspot for white-water rafting. The rapids of the Kopru River offer an exhilarating experience for both beginners and seasoned rafters. Guided tours are available, ensuring a safe and memorable adventure as you navigate the river’s twists and turns.

Beyond rafting, the park offers opportunities for hiking, fishing, and even camping under the stars. The rich flora and fauna, including endemic species, make it a treat for wildlife enthusiasts.

In a region known for its beaches and historical sites, Koprulu Canyon National Park offers a refreshing taste of Turkey’s natural beauty. It’s a must-visit for anyone looking to add a touch of adventure to their Antalya itinerary.

Koprulu Canyon National Park's beautiful turquoise waters are a dream for water rafting enthusiasts
Koprulu Canyon National Park’s beautiful turquoise waters are a dream for water rafting enthusiasts

10. Termessos Ancient City

Perched high in the Taurus Mountains, the ruins of Termessos are a testament to the city’s strategic importance in ancient times. Unlike many other ancient cities in the region, Termessos remains relatively untouched. This gives visitors a raw and authentic glimpse into the past.

The journey to Termessos is an adventure in itself. As you wind your way up the mountain roads, the panoramic views of the surrounding valleys and peaks are nothing short of spectacular. Once at the site, you’re greeted by massive stone walls, remnants of the city’s formidable defenses.

Exploring Termessos feels like stepping back in time. The ancient theater, with its backdrop of jagged mountain peaks, is a highlight. Imagine watching a performance here, with nature itself as the stage set. The city also boasts temples, tombs, and a well-preserved agora. Each of these offers insights into the daily lives and beliefs of its ancient inhabitants.

For history buffs and hiking enthusiasts, Termessos offers the perfect blend of exploration and discovery. The site’s elevated location means it’s cooler than the coast, making it a great escape during the hotter months. If you’re looking for a mix of history, nature, and adventure in Antalya, Termessos should be high on your list.

Termessos's theater is an ancient, magnificent marvel covered in unique stones
Termessos’s theater is an ancient, magnificent marvel covered in unique stones

11. Ariassos Ancient City

Tucked away in the foothills of the Taurus Mountains lies Ariassos, an often-overlooked gem that ranks among the best things to do in Antalya. This ancient city, dating back to the Hellenistic period, offers a quieter alternative to some of the region’s more frequented archaeological sites.

As you wander through Ariassos, you’ll encounter a range of well-preserved structures. The city’s baths, with their intricate mosaics, are particularly impressive. The tombs, carved directly into the rock faces, showcase the unique burial practices of the time. And the remains of the city walls and gates give a sense of the city’s former grandeur.

But what sets Ariassos apart is its setting. Nestled amidst pine forests and olive groves, the city feels harmoniously intertwined with nature. The fresh mountain air and the sounds of chirping birds add to the serene atmosphere.

While it might not be as famous, Ariassos stands out in its own right. Ariassos offers a more intimate and peaceful experience compared to some of Antalya’s other historical sites. It’s a place where you can truly immerse yourself in history, away from the crowds. For those looking to delve deeper into the region’s past, a visit to Ariassos is a must.

Ariassos' ancient city is a special hidden gem in Antalya for history lovers
Ariassos’ ancient city is a special hidden gem in Antalya for history lovers

12. Phaselis Ancient City

If there’s a place where the beauty of nature seamlessly blends with ancient history, it’s Phaselis. Located on a peninsula, this ancient Lycian city is surrounded by three beautiful bays. It offers a unique combination of archaeological exploration and beach relaxation.

Founded in the 7th century BC, Phaselis quickly became an important trading port. Today, visitors can stroll down its ancient main street, lined with the ruins of shops and houses. The city’s theater, agora, and aqueduct are also well-preserved, offering insights into the daily life and culture of its ancient inhabitants.

But what makes Phaselis special is its stunning coastal setting. After exploring the ruins, you can take a dip in the crystal-clear waters of its bays. The beaches here are tranquil, framed by pine forests and the Taurus Mountains in the distance.

For those who love history but also want a touch of the Mediterranean’s beach vibe, Phaselis is the perfect spot. It’s less crowded than some of Antalya’s more popular sites, allowing for a more relaxed and personal experience. Pack a picnic, bring your swimsuit, and spend a day immersed in the beauty and history of Phaselis.

Phaselis' beautiful, historic stone architecture is set in front of the tall, magnificent Taurus mountains
Phaselis’ beautiful, historic stone architecture is set in front of the tall, magnificent Taurus mountains

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Best Things to Do in Antalya

Looking for more content on the top things to do in Antalya? Here are some popular questions (and answers) I get that will help you plan your trip to Antalya:

What’s the best time to visit Antalya?

The ideal time to visit Antalya is during the spring (April to June) and fall (September to November). During these months, the weather is pleasant, and the city is less crowded. While summer offers great beach weather, it can get quite hot and is the peak tourist season.

Is Antalya safe for tourists?

Absolutely! Antalya is one of Turkey’s most popular tourist destinations and is generally very safe for travelers. Like any major city, it’s essential to be aware of your surroundings and avoid poorly lit areas at night, but most visitors have a hassle-free experience.

Can I get by with English in Antalya?

While Turkish is the official language, many people in the tourism industry speak English, especially in hotels, restaurants, and popular tourist spots. It’s always a good idea to learn a few basic Turkish phrases, though, as it can enhance your travel experience.

What is Antalya best known for?

Antalya, often referred to as the “Turkish Riviera,” is best known for its stunning Mediterranean coastline dotted with golden beaches. Beyond its natural beauty, the city boasts a rich history with well-preserved archaeological sites from the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman eras. The old district of Kaleiçi, with its historic houses and narrow streets, is a testament to the city’s storied past. Additionally, Antalya is a gateway to the ancient Lycian cities and offers a vibrant mix of modern amenities, bustling bazaars, and a thriving marina.

Kaleiçi's unique, brightly colored buildings are a wondrous sight for visitors of Antalya
Kaleiçi’s unique, brightly colored buildings are a wondrous sight for visitors of Antalya

What’s the local cuisine like? 

Antalya offers a rich culinary experience, with dishes ranging from fresh seafood to traditional Turkish kebabs. Don’t miss out on trying local specialties like ‘pide’ (Turkish pizza) and ‘simit’ (sesame bread ring). And of course, Turkish tea and baklava are a must!

Are there good transportation options in Antalya?

Yes, Antalya has a well-connected public transportation system, including buses and trams. Taxis are also readily available. For those looking to explore the broader region, renting a car might be a good option.

Is Antalya worth visiting?

Absolutely! Antalya offers a unique blend of sun-soaked beaches, ancient historical sites, and modern attractions. Whether you’re a history buff keen on exploring ancient ruins, a beach lover looking for pristine shores, or a foodie eager to dive into Turkish cuisine, Antalya has something for everyone. The city’s rich cultural heritage, combined with its natural beauty and warm hospitality, makes it a top destination in Turkey. From its bustling markets to serene coastal spots, Antalya promises a diverse and enriching travel experience.

Final Thoughts on Visiting Antalya

Antalya isn’t just another coastal city; it’s a treasure trove of experiences waiting to be discovered. With its rich history, sun-kissed beaches, and bustling markets, it offers a unique blend that few destinations can match. Whether you’re wandering through ancient ruins, savoring local dishes, or simply lounging by the Mediterranean, Antalya promises a trip filled with memories.

The city’s charm lies in its diversity, catering to history buffs, beach lovers, and food enthusiasts alike. Its warm hospitality ensures every traveler feels at home. If you’re seeking a destination that seamlessly combines the allure of the past with the vibrancy of the present, Antalya is the place to be.

Amazing things to do in Antalya for all types of travelers
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